Police draw blank in hunt for killings suspect

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The Independent US

Police say the suspect in the slayings of four police officers at a suburban coffee shop was not found in the Seattle home where he was thought to have been holed up.

Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said the location of Maurice Clemmons was not known, and it's possible he still could be in the neighborhood. Troyer also said people who know Clemmons told investigators he had been shot in the torso.

"If he didn't get a ride out of there, he could still be in the area," Troyer said.

Troyer said warrants for first-degree murder have been issued against Clemmons, 37, who is accused of shooting four officers from the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood on Sunday morning as they were working in the coffee house. Pierce County, where the shootings happened, is the lead agency investigating the case.

Police surrounded the house late Sunday. Before heavily armed police officers determined shortly before dawn that Clemmons was not in the house, negotiators spent hours trying to communicate with him, using loudspeakers, explosions and even a robot sent into the house. At one point, gunshots rang through the neighborhood.

Clemmons has a long criminal history, including a long prison sentence commuted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee nearly a decade ago, and a recent arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer in Washington state.

Authorities allege he killed Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42, as they worked on their laptop computers at the beginning of their shifts.

Clemmons is believed to have been in the area of the coffee shop around the time of the shooting, but Troyer declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting.

Investigators say they know of no reason for gunning down the officers, but court documents indicate Clemmons is delusional and mentally unstable.

"We're going to be surprised if there is a motive worth mentioning," said Troyer, who sketched out a scene of controlled and deliberate carnage that spared the employees and other customers at the coffee shop in suburban Parkland, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Seattle.